Updated 07:35 PM EDT, Wed, Oct 21, 2020

Dominican Republic 'Actively Watching Out' for Zika Virus

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With the dreaded Zika virus already rapidly spreading beyond Brazil, Dominican Republic health authorities have already placed themselves on high alert for the possible arrival of the Zika virus. The virus is linked to causing shrinking in newborns' brains.

According to Dominican Today, health authorities have already made the public aware of this. They said that they have introduced prevention, control and vigilance measures. The health authorities have called on local residents to keep their water tanks covered and to eliminate all possible trash and discarded objects that might serve as a potential breeding ground for the mosquitoes.

Raquel Pimentel, general director of the Ministry of Health's Epidemiology Division, told the publication that the Dominican Republic is doing what it can to detect cases as early as possible, and has emphasized eliminating breeding areas and reducing contagion levels.

Forbes reports that Zika virus was first found in mosquitoes in the Zika forest in Uganda, hence the name. There has been an increase in Zika cases in Colombia, with more than a thousand new cases a week. Brazil, on the other hand, saw its first reported case in May 2015. There has been a surge in cases which is estimated to be between 440,000-1.3 million.

Likewise, Puerto Rico reported their first mosquito-borne virus in late December. But Puerto Rican Congressman Pedro Pierluisi said in a report with CNN that there was "no cause for alarm." He added that the public should do what they can to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito normally lives around urban areas, and thrives in countries with tropical weather. Known to bite aggressively during the day, it is the same mosquito that can carry diseases such as yellow fever and dengue.

There is no known basis for how Zika virus can cause microcephaly, or the shrinkage in the newborns' brains. Most mothers of these children have been reported to have Zika-like symptoms throughout their pregnancy. 

Brazil is already currently dealing with another health outbreak that is threatening the country. The website says that in 2015, Brazil recorded 1.6 million cases of dengue, which is nearly three times as many as in 2014. 

There is no current vaccine to prevent Zika virus, and there is no medical cure to treat it. Symptoms may include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Symptoms normally begin three to seven days after being bitten.

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